One of the most influential, powerful, controversial and important figures in the history of the National Basketball Association has passed away.

The league announced that David Stern, the commissioner who improved the NBA and towered over it during its most successful era, died Wednesday at the age of 77.

Stern suffered a brain hemorrhage three weeks ago. The NBA said that his family and his wife Dianne were at his bedside when he died.

Current NBA commissioner Adam Silver called Stern a "legend" and "one of the most influential business leaders of his generation." Silver also credited Stern with making the NBA "a truly global brand."

Stern helped transform the league into one driven by star power. Seven teams joined the NBA on Stern's watch and six relocated. He helped create the WNBA. And his time as commissioner stretched from the era of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird through LeBron James and Steph Curry. Under Stern, television revenue in the league jumped from $10 million to $900 million per-year.

One of the NBA players who knew Stern best was Michael Jordan. Stern became the commissioner of the league the same year Jordan was drafted, in 1984. After winning six championships and catapulting the NBA into a different stratosphere of popularity, Jordan became an owner, purchasing the Charlotte Hornets.

Jordan released this statement through his team on Wednesday:

“Without David Stern, the NBA would not be what it is today. He guided the league through turbulent times and grew the league into an international phenomenon, creating opportunities that few could have imagined before. His vision and leadership provided me with the global stage that allowed me to succeed. David had a deep love for the game of basketball and demanded excellence from those around him – and I admired him for that. I wouldn’t be where I am without him. I offer my deepest sympathies to Dianne and his family.”